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The Mandala

    The word mandala means circle in Sanskrit.  The mandala is a symbolic view of the universe. The forms of the mandala vary, but a mandala can be made from sand, or painted, or it can simply be a visualization. The mandala is representative of a palace and one contemplates on a mandala during meditation. Mandalas are important in Buddhism and Hinduism. In Vajrayana Buddhism, mandalas are almost always made from painted sand. 

    Mandalas are very important for tantric Buddhists because they represent the Buddha’s ‘body of enlightenment’. The mandala is a receptacle and gathering place for the Buddhas. Using mandalas during meditation is a sacred act of contemplation, but the act of making a mandala is actually a ritual as well.

    Mandalas are used to help focus one’s attention and center the mind. Mandalas help us establish a quiet or sacred space in our mind, and this helps our meditative practices. Mandalas come in a variety of forms as well. One form is a 5 Wisdom Buddhas mandala. This type of mandala shows the 5 Buddhas, Vairocana, Aksobhya, Ratnasambhava, Amitabha, and Amaghasiddhi. This type of mandala is also found in the bottom of singing bowls and other Buddhist artwork.

    Most mandalas are made in the same style, there is a square in the center of the mandala and there are circles formed around the square. The outermost circle is decorated in a manner that suggests a ring of fire. This ring of fire symbolizes the process of transformation we have to complete (as humans) before we can find happiness and contentment within. The ring of fire also symbolizes the burning of ignorance.

    After the outside circle, the ring of fire, the next circle moving inward is the ring of thunderbolts or diamonds. This ring stands for indestructibility. Diamonds can cut other objects, but a diamond cannot be cut.

    The third circle is the circle of eight graveyards. This circle represents the eight aspects of human consciousness that bind us to the earth, and the endless cycle of birth and death. The last ring symbolizes rebirth, and this circle is made from lotus leaves. In the Tibetan Buddhist mandala, the central and most important deity is in the center, and the deities who are in the palace of the mandala are there as role models.

    All Tibetan Buddhist monks must learn to make mandalas. Before the mandala is made, the monk must memorize many texts and rituals. The monk is actually participating in Buddha’s teachings when he makes the mandala.

    Constructing a sand mandala is a ritual that takes weeks to complete.  To create a mandala, the first step for Buddhist monks is a long period of study and contemplation. This period can be as long as three years. The mandala is created by four monks and four assistants. The mandala starts from the center and the four monks work outward from there. Four lines are drawn from the center dot to make four quadrants.

    The four monks who create the mandala must work together, at the same pace. All four monks must complete one section before they can move onto the next section together.  When the mandala is finished there is a ceremony and the monks ask the deities for blessings. Because the mandala is made of sand, the mandala is usually destroyed either during this ceremony or a few days after it is completed. This destruction is a lesson on the impermanence of things.

We have many different products with the Mandala design. Like our Buddhist poster with a mandala, our Mandala Colouring Book, this colorful mandala pendant, this coral mandala pendant, and this mandala pendant with turquoise inlay, we also have many different styles of hand-painted mandala thangkas.